When submitting samples for diagnostic evaluation, the importance of a clearly written, detailed history cannot be overemphasized. Please provide relevant patient signalment, clinical history, physical exam findings, and laboratory results. When submitting a biopsy, please provide a detailed description of the lesion including the site from which the biopsy was taken.
- Submitting samples in syringes, with or without needles, is NEVER appropriate.
- Specimens submitted to the MU VMDL, including carcasses, tissues and agents isolated from samples, become the property of the MU VMDL.
- Specimens for rabies testing should be sent to the State Public Health Laboratory in Jefferson City, MO. Contact your local health department regarding proper submission of specimens or go to http://health.mo.gov/lab/rabies.php for additional information. Samples submitted to the VMDL for rabies testing will incur a fee for sample collection plus an additional fee for disposal of remains, if needed.
The Tests and Fees section provides a quick guide for the type of sample needed and special submission requirements, if any, for a specific test.
Please call the VMDL (1-800-862-8635) for guidance on tests or types of samples that are not listed in the Tests and Fees section. Testing human specimens for diagnostic purposes is outside the VMDL scope of work and is strictly prohibited.
- Samples must be labeled correctly to ensure accurate results.
- Use a pen or marker that will not smear if label gets wet.
- Label the primary container (blood tube, culturette, specimen jar, etc.) with the following information:
- Animal name or ID number
- Owner’s last name
- Veterinarian’s name
- Date sample collected if sending paired samples
- Time and date the sample was put in formalin if submitting for histopathology
- A printable template for labels, using Avery 8160, is available. These labels can be used for both the primary receptacle and secondary packaging.
- Check that the information on the specimen label matches the information on the submission form.
- Label the sample and submission form “Human Risk” if the sample may contain infectious agents hazardous to humans such as rabies virus, Francisella tularensis, Bacillus anthracis, Brucella, Leptospira, systemic mycoses, etc.
Appropriate packaging of samples submitted to the VMDL is extremely important. Leakage of samples or breakage of containers poses a hazard to all individuals handling the packages. Following the steps outlined below will facilitate safe delivery of samples to the lab.
1. Proper packaging requires the use of 3 components: a primary receptacle, secondary packaging, and tertiary packaging.
2. The primary receptacle is the blood tube, culturette, formalin-containing jar, etc. that the sample is placed in.
- Close the container completely.
- Label it. See Sample Labeling.
3. Place the primary receptacle in the secondary packaging.
- The secondary packaging may be a Ziploc bag, box, or other sealable container. For liquids, the secondary packaging must be leakproof; for solids, the secondary packaging must be siftproof.
- Primary receptacles must be packed in secondary packaging in such a way that, under normal conditions of transport, they cannot break, be punctured, or leak their contents into the secondary packaging.
- Place sufficient absorbent material between the primary receptacle and the secondary packaging to absorb all liquids in the primary receptacle(s) if breakage should occur.
- Seal the secondary packaging.
- Label the secondary packaging. If there is more than 1 secondary package, it is helpful to VMDL personnel if you label these “1 of 2” or whatever is appropriate.
- Formalin-containing samples require special care.
- If using the VMDL prefilled formalin containers, the primary receptacle, secondary packaging, absorbent material, and shipping box are all included. The prefilled formalin container is the primary receptacle. Seal the lid of this container with tape. The sealable, leak-proof bag serves as the secondary packaging. Please place all of the provided absorbent material inside of this leak-proof bag, wrapping it around the formalin container.
4. Place the secondary packaging(s) in the tertiary packaging (shipping container). This is usually a sturdy box which may contain a Styrofoam insert if shipping items with cold packs.
5. With the exception of fixed tissue, slides, and Tritrichomonas pouches, most samples require shipment with cold packs.
- Include sufficient cooling material for the volume of sample being sent, the length of shipping time, and the time of year.
- Put the cold packs in Ziploc bags to prevent condensation in the package.
- Please do not attach samples to the cold packs.
6. Add sufficient packing material (newspaper, packing peanuts, etc.) to fill the tertiary packaging.
7. Put the submission form in a Ziploc bag and place this inside the tertiary packaging.
8. Securely close the tertiary packaging.
These are general packaging guidelines. Refer to the links below for carrier-specific shipping requirements.
Practitioners are responsible for following published federal guidelines and regulations. For details pertaining to packaging, labeling, and interstate shipping of infectious agents refer to Title 42 CFR Part 72 https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2007-title42-vol1/pdf/CFR-2007-title42-vol1-part72.pdf and IATA Packing Instructions 650 https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/packing-instruction-650-DGR56-en.pdf.
- Label the package correctly. The shipping address differs, depending upon the shipping vendor used.
US Postal Office (USPS)
Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
P.O. Box 6023
Columbia, MO 65205
Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
810 East Campus Loop
Columbia, MO 65211
FedEx using the FedEx Billable Stamp ** (order form)
Address is preprinted on the label
**The FedEx Billable Stamp provides significant cost savings to practitioners shipping samples to the VMDL. Please contact us at 1-800-862-8635 for more information about this service.
- Precautions: Some samples pose a potential risk to the individual opening the package. These are samples that you suspect may contain an infectious agent harmful to people, such as Leptospira, Brucella, Bacillus anthracis, Francisella tularensis, As instructed under Sample Labeling, you should have labeled both the primary receptacle and the submission form ‘Human Risk’.
- Ensure that the package meets the shipping requirements of the courier. Refer to Sample Packaging for links to courier and federal shipping requirements.
- Before shipping the package, please call the VMDL at 1-800-862-8635 to advise us that such a package is on its way.
- To alert the individuals opening these packages, please write “SPECIAL HANDLING” in large letters on the front of the package.
- Do not write this on packages that contain formalin-fixed tissue or samples being tested for diseases not transmissible to humans. Call the VMDL at 1-800-862-8635 if you are unsure whether or not to label “SPECIAL HANDLING”.
- Specimens for rabies testing are sent to the State Public Health Laboratory in Jefferson City, MO. Contact your local health department regarding proper submission of specimens or go to http://health.mo.gov/lab/rabies.php for additional information. Samples submitted to the VMDL for rabies testing will incur a fee for sample collection plus an additional fee for disposal of remains, if needed.